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Encyclopedia > Eru Ilúvatar

Eru (the One), also called Ilúvatar (the Father of All), is the name in the legendarium of J.R.R. Tolkien for the supreme God. He is considered the father of the Ainur, thus in lineage charts Ainur are shown as children of Ilúvatar. However, not all of the Ainur were considered to be siblings. For instance, Manwë, Varda, and Melkor's father is Ilúvatar, and Melkor and Manwë were considered brothers; Varda was not considered their sister. He is the single omnipotent creator, but has delegated most direct action within Eä to the Ainur, including the shaping of the Earth (Arda) itself. Eru is an important part of the stories of The Silmarillion but is not mentioned by name in Tolkien's most famous works, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (He is alluded to as "the One" in the part of LotR's Appendix A that speaks of the downfall of Númenor). A legendarium is a book or series of books consisting of a collection of legends. ... J. R. R. Tolkien in 1916. ... The term God is ordinarily used to designate a singular, universal Supreme Being. ... The Holy Ones (singular Ainu), the first beings created by Ilúvatar, the order of the Valar and Maiar, made before Eä. There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought. ... A map of Arda before the end of the First Age, courtesy of the Encyclopedia of Arda In the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, Arda is the world in which all of the events occur, including the continents of Middle-earth and Aman. ... The Silmarillion is a collection of J. R. R. Tolkiens works, edited and published posthumously by his son Christopher, with the assistance of fantasy fiction writer Guy Gavriel Kay. ... The Hobbit is a fantasy novel written by J.R.R. Tolkien originally as a childrens story in the tradition of the fairy tale. ... Dust jacket of the 1968 UK edition The one ring of power The Lord of the Rings is an epic fantasy story by J. R. R. Tolkien, a sequel to his earlier work, The Hobbit. ... Númenor is a fictional location from J. R. R. Tolkiens universe of Middle-earth and is intended to be his version of Atlantis. ...


Eru as Creator God

Elves and Men were created by Eru directly, without delegation to the Ainur, and they are therefore called "Children of Ilúvatar" (Eruhini). The Dwarves were "adopted" by Eru in the sense that they were created by Aulë but given sapience by Eru. Animals and plants were probably fashioned by Ainur after themes set out by Eru in the Music of the Ainur, although this is questionable in cases where animals exhibit sapience, as in the case of Huan, or the Eagles in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. For alternate meanings, see Lightning (disambiguation). ... This article concerns how a man differs from women. ... This page is about a mythological race. ... Aulë is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkiens legendarium. ... Sapience is the ability of an organism or entity to act with intelligence. ... The Ainulindalë is the title of the first part of The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien. ... In J. R. R. Tolkiens fictional universe of Middle-earth, Huan was a great Hound. ...


Tolkien on Eru

Tolkien understood Eru not as a "fictional deity" but as a name in a fictional language for the actual monotheistic God, although in a mythological or fictional context. In a draft of a letter of 1954 to Peter Hastings, manager of the Newman Bookshop (a Catholic bookshop in Oxford), Tolkien defended non-orthodox aspects as rightly within the scope of his mythology, as an exploration of the infinite "potential variety" of God (Letters, No. 153). Regarding the possibility of reincarnation of Elves, Hastings had written: Monotheism (in Greek monon = single and Theos = God) is the belief in a single, universal, all-encompassing deity. ... 1954 was a common year starting on Friday (link will take you to calendar). ... Oxford is a city and local government district in Oxfordshire, England, with a population of 134,248 (2001 census). ... The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien (ISBN 0-618-05699-8) is a selection of J. R. R. Tolkiens letters published in 1981, edited by his son Christopher Tolkien and the biographer Humphrey Carpenter. ... Reincarnation, also called transmigration of souls, is the rebirth in another body (after physical death), of some critical part of a persons personality or spirit. ... The Elves (always pluralized as such, never Elfs) are one of the races that appear in the work of J. R. R. Tolkien. ...

God has not used that device in any of the creations of which we have knowledge, and it seems to me to be stepping beyond the position of a sub-creator to produce it as an actual working thing, because a sub-creator, when dealing with the relations between creator and created, should use those channels which he knows the creator to have used already

Tolkien's reply contains an explanation of his view of the relation of (divine) Creation to (human) sub-creation:

We differ entirely about the nature of the relation of sub-creation to Creation. I should have said that liberation "from the channels the creator is known to have used already" is the fundamental function of "sub-creation", a tribute to the infinity of His potential variety [...] I am not a metaphysician; but I should have thought it a curious metaphysic — there is not one but many, indeed potentially innumerable ones — that declared the channels known (in such a finite corner as we have any inkling of) to have been used, are the only possible ones, or efficacious, or possibly acceptable to and by Him!

Hastings had also criticised the description of Tom Bombadil by Goldberry: "He is", saying that this seemed to imply that Bombadil was God. Tom Bombadil (also Iarwain Ben-adar in Elvish) is a fictional character of Middle-earth, created by J. R. R. Tolkien. ... Goldberry is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkiens The Lord of the Rings. ... The term God is ordinarily used to designate a singular, universal Supreme Being. ...


Tolkien replied to this:

As for Tom Bombadil, I really do think you are being too serious, besides missing the point. [...] You rather remind me of a Protestant relation who to me objected to the (modern) Catholic habit of calling priests Father, because the name father belonged only to the First Person.

Inspiration and development

The title the Father of All is thought by some to be borrowed from the god Odin in Norse mythology, though the New Testament also refers to God as the one God and Father of all. Tolkien, as a Catholic and a scholar of northern European mythology, was probably influenced by both sources. As Tolkien was highly educated in Finnish mythology, it would be no surprise if the name of Ilúvatar were derived from Ilmatar, Maid of Air, one of the primal spirits of creation. For other meanings of Odin and Wotan see Odin (disambiguation) Odin (Old Norse Óðinn, Swedish Oden) is usually considered the supreme god of Germanic and Norse mythology. ... Norse mythology, Viking mythology or Scandinavian mythology refer to the pre-Christian religion, beliefs and legends of the Scandinavian people, including those who settled on Iceland, where the written sources for Norse mythology were assembled. ... The New Testament, sometimes called the Greek Scriptures, is the name given to the part of the Christian Bible that was written after the birth of Jesus. ... World map showing location of Europe A satellite composite image of Europe Europe is geologically and geographically a peninsula, forming the westernmost part of Eurasia. ... In Finnish mythology, Ilmatar or Luonnotar was the virgin goddess of the heavens. ...


It is to be noted that in older versions of the Middle-earth legendarium the name Ilúvatar meant "Sky-father", but this etymology was dropped in favour of the newer meaning in later revisions. Ilúvatar was also the only name of God used in earlier versions — the name Eru first appeared in "The Annals of Aman", published in Morgoth's Ring, the 10th volume of The History of Middle-earth. A map of the Northwestern part of Middle-earth at the end of the Third Age, courtesy of the Encyclopedia of Arda. ... The sky father is a recurring theme in pagan and neopagan mythology. ... Etymology is the study of the origins of words. ... Morgoths Ring is the 10th volume of Christopher Tolkiens 12-volume series The History of Middle-earth in which he analyses the unpublished manuscripts of his father J. R. R. Tolkien. ... Morgoths Ring is the 10th volume of Christopher Tolkiens 12_volume series The History of Middle_earth in which he analyses the unpublished manuscripts of his father J. R. R. Tolkien. ... The History of Middle-earth is a 12-volume series of books that collect and analyse material relating to the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, compiled and edited by his son, Christopher Tolkien. ...


 
 

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